Scriptures

Jeremiah 36

Introduction

Once again, we have a situation where the end seems to be near, as at the end of Jeremiah 34, and then we go back a few years to the fourth year of Jehoiakim. This would be about 604 B.C., some 17 years before the Fall of Jerusalem. Jeremiah had been prophesying for 23 years, from the 13th year of Josiah to the fourth year of Jehoiakim.

In a few words, the chapter consists of the following:

1. God tells Jeremiah to write a book.

2. The book is read to the people.

3. The book is read to the king, King Jehoiakim.

4. The king burns the book.

5. God tells Jeremiah to write the book again. The purpose was for Baruch to read this book to the people at a time when Jeremiah seemed to be banned from the Temple.

‘In the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD: ‘Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations from the time I began speaking to you in the reign of Josiah till now. Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I plan to inflict on them, they will each turn from their wicked ways; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin.’ So, Jeremiah called Baruch son of Neriah, and while Jeremiah dictated all the words the LORD had spoken to him, Baruch wrote them on the scroll. Then Jeremiah told Baruch, ‘I am restricted; I am not allowed to go to the LORD’s temple. So, you go to the house of the LORD on a day of fasting and read to the people from the scroll the words of the LORD that you wrote as I dictated. Read them to all the people of Judah who come in from their towns. Perhaps they will bring their petition before the LORD and will each turn from their wicked ways, for the anger and wrath pronounced against this people by the LORD are great.’ Baruch son of Neriah did everything Jeremiah the prophet told him to do; at the LORD’s temple he read the words of the LORD from the scroll.’ Jeremiah 36:1-8

Jeremiah is told by God to compose a scroll, a book, incorporating all that God has told him so far. This first scroll was dictated about 604/605 B.C. This was the year that the Babylonians won a very decisive victory over Egypt. Perhaps this was intended to once again give God’s people a chance to repent, a last hope for them.

Jeremiah dictated this book to Baruch. I guess Baruch was a kind of war correspondent, he was also to act as the prophet’s deputy in taking the scroll to the people. Jeremiah himself couldn’t do this as he was ‘debarred’ from the temple. At the beginning of this chapter we see that he wasn’t yet in prison, So, perhaps he was physically restrained from going, or it could be that the people had, had enough of him, and his doom messages, so they wouldn’t let him in.

‘In the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, a time of fasting before the LORD was proclaimed for all the people in Jerusalem and those who had come from the towns of Judah. From the room of Gemariah son of Shaphan the secretary, which was in the upper courtyard at the entrance of the New Gate of the temple, Baruch read to all the people at the LORD’s temple the words of Jeremiah from the scroll. When Micaiah son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, heard all the words of the LORD from the scroll, he went down to the secretary’s room in the royal palace, where all the officials were sitting: Elishama the secretary, Delaiah son of Shemaiah, Elnathan son of Akbor, Gemariah son of Shaphan, Zedekiah son of Hananiah, and all the other officials. After Micaiah told them everything he had heard Baruch read to the people from the scroll, all the officials sent Jehudi son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, to say to Baruch, ‘Bring the scroll from which you have read to the people and come.’ So, Baruch son of Neriah went to them with the scroll in his hand. They said to him, ‘Sit down, please, and read it to us.’ So, Baruch read it to them. When they heard all these words, they looked at each other in fear and said to Baruch, ‘We must report all these words to the king.’ Then they asked Baruch, ‘Tell us, how did you come to write all this? Did Jeremiah dictate it?’ ‘Yes,’ Baruch replied, ‘he dictated all these words to me, and I wrote them in ink on the scroll.’ Then the officials said to Baruch, ‘You and Jeremiah, go and hide. Don’t let anyone know where you are.’ Jeremiah 36:9-19

We are told that a fasting before God was proclaimed for all the people in Jerusalem and in the towns round about. Some scholars believe that this was done in an effort to show God that they were still behind Him. But an outward show is not what God wants. It’s the inside of a man that has to be right.

This paragraph describes where the reading took place, presumably in one of the prominent chambers of the temple. Scripture doesn’t say that there were two periods for the reading of this lengthy document, so it must have taken the whole of the day of tasting.

The scroll is read in the hearing of the people, and the genuine nature of the document would be stressed by Baruch, who had written it himself from the dictation of Jeremiah. The officials wanted to know details of how the scroll had been prepared, they even showed friendliness to him by allowing him to be seated.

They were all afraid, and demonstrated their fear through looks, gestures and words. Why were they afraid? Well, the words of the prophet alone were enough to make them afraid. But they probably also feared that the king would act violently when he heard about the book. They then wanted Baruch to explain how the dictation took place.

What is evident here is that the officials were concerned for both Baruch and Jeremiah, and we see from verse 19 that they advised both Baruch and Jeremiah to, go and hide.

‘After they put the scroll in the room of Elishama the secretary, they went to the king in the courtyard and reported everything to him. The king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and Jehudi brought it from the room of Elishama the secretary and read it to the king and all the officials standing beside him. It was the ninth month and the king was sitting in the winter apartment, with a fire burning in the firepot in front of him. Whenever Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire. The king and all his attendants who heard all these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes. Even though Elnathan, Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. Instead, the king commanded Jerahmeel, a son of the king, Seraiah son of Azriel and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet. But the LORD had hidden them.’ Jeremiah 36:20-26

The king gets to hear of the words of the scroll. As the secretary reads each paragraph so the king takes a scribe’s knife, presumably a kind of penknife, usually used for making and repairing reed pens or cutting papyrus, and cuts out sections of the scroll as they are read and throws them into a burning firepot. This continued until the scroll was destroyed.

Some of the officials and servants in the king’s presence must have had a good laugh at his actions. Once the king had finished he called for the arrest of Jeremiah and Baruch, but they could not be found because God had hidden them. God had once again kept His promise to protect the prophet.

‘After the king burned the scroll containing the words that Baruch had written at Jeremiah’s dictation, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: ‘Take another scroll and write on it all the words that were on the first scroll, which Jehoiakim king of Judah burned up. Also tell Jehoiakim king of Judah, ‘This is what the LORD says: You burned that scroll and said, ‘Why did you write on it that the king of Babylon would certainly come and destroy this land and wipe from it both man and beast?’ Therefore, this is what the LORD says about Jehoiakim king of Judah: He will have no one to sit on the throne of David; his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the frost by night. I will punish him and his children and his attendants for their wickedness; I will bring on them and those living in Jerusalem and the people of Judah every disaster I pronounced against them, because they have not listened.’ So, Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to the scribe Baruch son of Neriah, and as Jeremiah dictated, Baruch wrote on it all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them.’ Jeremiah 36:27-32

After the scroll had been burned, God told Jeremiah to write another one. He also told Jeremiah to tell the king that he would be severely punished for burning this first edition of the book. He would lose his throne, and his sons could not sit as rulers. A query here.

Didn’t his son, Jehoiachin, reign for three months? 2 Kings 24:8ff.

The answer, of course, is ‘yes’, he did. But God did not recognise it. The statement therefore is true, God did not appoint him, nor his family after him. He was dismissed without tribute or respect, which is the worst thing that can happen to a monarch. This signified shame and disgrace. Jehoiakim was taken into captivity, where he was imprisoned until released by Evil Merodach.

Jehoiakim was not the only ruler to attempt to get rid of God’s word by burning it. Adolph Hitler, and his evil henchmen, burned the Bible in Nuremberg in 1933. And the same disastrous consequences befell him, and his kingdom, as those which overcame Jehoiakim, and his kingdom.

Go To Jeremiah 37

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

Genesis 1:1

MENU